After almost two years of remote learning, kids and parents alike are excited about returning to a normal school year – or at least as normal as that can get. Back to school means many things to people (learning, football, reconnecting … even protractors), but the one thing that it means for all of us is “back to school” shopping. And according to this podcast sponsored by accounting giant Deloitte, those back-to-school shopping lists may be longer than usual this year. That means it is even more important to be a savvy back-to-school shopper.
Several factors might lead to a big back-to-school shopping season. One factor is pent-up demand from the disappointing experience of 2020. It was a year filled with job and market uncertainty, and it doesn’t take an economics degree to understand that consumers tend to save and not spend under these conditions. In addition, 2020 was a year in which, for many kids, “going back to school” literally meant walking from their bedrooms to the laptop on the kitchen table. Yep, 2020 was the year of learning about parallelograms in your pajamas … pretty low budget. But this year is different. As schools are reopening, there are almost two years of pent-up demand making supplies, clothing and other back-to-school gear highly sought-after items (and let’s face it, who can resist the thrill of a fresh new notebook?).
Another factor signaling increased back-to-school spending this year is a significant decline in the joblessness rates. Parents are back to work and many also have extra income as a result of the American Rescue Plan’s Child Tax Credit. All of this means that parent buying power is looking up and a chunk of that is likely to increase back to school spending. According to Retail Dive, stimulus spending and tax credits could increase back to school spending this year by $6 billion.
So back to school shopping is “back” this year and that is a welcome thing! But, with all of the excitement of returning to some version of school year “normal,” it’s important to have a plan so that those books, bags and bobbles don’t bust your budget. Here are some ways to save money on back-to-school shopping that are sure to put you on the savvy shopper dean’s list.
Shop from a List
Impulsive shopping anyone?!! Pent-up demand sometimes ends in splurging which sometimes ends with the busted budget blues. Avoid impulsive shopping by having a list of wanted and needed items and sticking to it. Don’t have time to write out a list, get all the kids in the car, drive to two or three big box stores? No worries. Online resources can help you buy all the things you need for your child to return to school with just the right supplies for classroom needs. TeacherLists, for example, allows teachers to upload their supply lists for their specific classes and schools. Parents can then find and shop for those items online through several companies like Target, Amazon and Walmart.
Cost Effective Coupon Codes
Taking advantage of coupons, rebate sites and cashback apps can be a real help. If you’re shopping online, why not use a deal finder, like Rakuten or RetailMeNot to apply coupon codes and earn cashback rewards while you shop? Apps like these test and apply codes that give you cash back on purchases from various stores including back-to-school retail favorites.
Yes, we love that fresh notebook, but infuse that with a little 21st century know-how and what you get is a reusable, like Rocketbook. Rocketbook is a notebook where you can write notes (like a normal notebook), but kids can use the app to upload those notes to Google Drive or another file-saving storage to save or share with others. Even better, after you write your notes, you can wipe the notebook clean and feel secure in the knowledge that your notes have been digitally saved elsewhere. Over time, reusables like this can really add to the piggy bank … plus you can say “goodbye” to the “uh-oh!!” of lost notes.
Start Early and Happy Shopping!
As the 2021 school season gets rolling, use these tips to get those purchases taken care of in a budget-friendly way. One last tip: With supply chains still experiencing disruptions, it’s a good idea to get a jump on your shopping activity to ensure that you’re first in line to purchase your back-to-school merchandise. Here’s a quick read on back-to-school supply and demand.
It’s a special time of year filled with excitement and anticipation. And a smart, budget-friendly plan can help your shopping worries so that you can focus on the joy of “going back to school!”
Need some more tips on creating a budget-friendly back-to-school budget? Check out our post on creating a budget to start your back-to-school shopping season off to a great start!